A letter from our Publishers...
The scale of this region is dizzying—1.75 million people spread over 100 municipalities. It’s easy to carve out a separate life and feel cut off from the surrounding communities, clueless about their riches. At every level, the solution is connection.
Collaborations, like this one between the organizations that created the magazine you’re reading, carry us across barriers toward a strong common goal.They move us forward. Physical connections, like trails and bike paths, do the same thing.
Tight borders around our routines dissolve; the geopolitical boundaries vanish. Back in 1870, when the city and county split, no one could have predicted what challenges would result. We wound up with a patchwork of competing interests.
The good news is, when a cyclist or hiker passes from one jurisdiction to another, they don’t know it! The land is what matters—its shapes and textures, the nature and hardscape that animate it. Cities lose their limits.
Criss-crossing the St. Louis region on foot or bicycle is an experience unlike any car ride. We have so many colorful, storied places to visit, some tucked out of sight from the major roads but all within easy reach. The Katy Trail, a 287-mile ride through the Missouri countryside, is just minutes from the suburbs.
Very few things are both common enough and extraordinary enough to truly define a region, and one of ours is cycling. This new publication, ACROSS STL, a joint effort of Trailnet and the Katy Land Trust, aims to improve the way people who make this region their home—or visit for longer than a day—connect to our places. Trailnet and the Katy Land Trust have very different geographic interests but a single shared goal: establishing the St. Louis region as a premier place for cycling and walking. ACROSS STL tells a story of St. Louis as one place, connected by people who love where they live.
The Gateway Arch is our front porch, a soaring arc that invites the world in. The lush Missouri River Valley in Hermann is our great big back yard. And the distance from porch to yard is a mere 65 miles. As our gorgeous cover by watercolorist Sophie Binder illustrates, this area encompasses some of the nation's most revered cultural attractions and diverse neighborhoods.
Its scenic river valley was the starting point for the journey that inspired the Arch. Individually, each of these segments is noteworthy. Connected, they are spectacular.
In these pages, we’ll focus on the big picture, then swoop in close to show you the people and organizations who are making things happen by forging connections of all kinds. We’ll explore the reasons “our place” is world class, and lay out the many ways connecting its parts can transform our future.
Over the decades, St. Louisans have accumulated a remarkable collection of cultural assets—the Arch, Zoo, Forest Park, Botanical Garden and the restaurants, sports teams and universities of the city. Now we have an opportunity to connect that metropolitan nexus with the winding trails and wineries of our countryside.
Let’s get the word out—loud and clear, speaking in one voice.
Ralph and Dan
A lover of the outdoors, Sophie Binder takes her sketchbook and watercolors everywhere she goes. They were with her everyday on a trip she took around the world; being the perfect communication device when language proved to be a hurdle. And, that is the way she wanted it to be…
In 2001 Sophie quit her job, put her belongings in storage, left her home and fulfilled a lifelong dream to bicycle and sketch her way around the world. It was a solo adventure that would take her through 16 countries throughout Southern Europe, the Middle East, the Sub-Continent, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the US, pedaling 14,000 miles during a span of 14 months.
She came back in June 2002 with seven sketchbooks full of watercolors and stories of her journey. She published her book, The World; Two Wheels and a Sketchbook ten years later. Sophie’s experience is a perfect backdrop for the inaugural issue of ACROSS STL; how travel and connectivity exist to provide perspective, one that can change the way we see ourselves, and more importantly, our community as a whole.